The cover to this issue is the clearest expression of what this series has been like lately, it’s an epic chess match between Tony Stark and the Mandarin, and every character is a piece in someone’s game. This issue marks (I think) a shift in the momentum of the battle, as Tony manages to free Zeke Stane from the control of Mandarin, and gains a secret upper hand. But you can never be sure, Mandarin probably has another double-cross up his sleeves. The best sequences in this issue was probably Mandarin telling Tony his ‘origin’, where he says that his Rings are in fact vessels for cosmic warriors. Who knows if he’s telling the truth or not, Fraction has played a lot with Mandarin’s various contradictory origins, and I think he’s found the right idea here, just like the Joker, we’ll never know the truth. In amongst all of the high-stakes chess, the scenes with New Iron Man are like a breath of action-heavy fresh air, they are just great fun, Rhodey’s cocky dialogue is great, and Larroca draws the hell out of all the different robots clanking each other to bits. I even love the new speech bubbles Iron Man has! That’s how you know you’re a nerd, when you love speech bubbles. Who was it Pepper Potts was sleeping with? Wyche? What the?